One year ago this day I was locked in mortal combat with a little game called Dark Souls. I spent almost my entire Halloween evening near tears, desperately resisting the urge to snap my controller in half like I was the Macho Man Randy Savage. As a result of this, probably the best post I wrote on my short-lived Dark Souls journal. In honor of those terrible times, I’m reposting it here. What’s spookier than abject failure and cursing in front of children?
NOT MUCH. Enjoy. If you guys like it, the entire thing is over here – http://darksoulsproject.wordpress.com/
I spent the better part of three hours in the Catacombs. In the world of Dark Souls this was actually pretty merciful. I’m sure there’s at least three groups of camp counselors sitting around a fire right now, whispering tales of skeletons and necromancers to groups of children. “…and then I rolled off the cliff…RIGHT IN FRONT OF ALL MY SOULS!”
To me though, those three hours would forever be seared into my memory as the worst Halloween of all time. Forget that one time I got beaten up, or that one year I wanted to be Leonardo and my mom gave me a bo staff and orange headband (GOD MOM). Nope, last night’s three hours of Dark Souls was more terrifying than any scary movie marathon or early onset diabetes
Having just moved to a new house (that’s right, a real house…movin’ on up folks, no more shitty apartments or strange noises at 2am) the wife and I were quite excited about the prospect of entertaining actual trick or treaters this year. Our tasteful, yet still somewhat elaborate, decorations were in place. The candy bowl was filled with an assortment of goods (fuck yeah Haribo gummy bears) and the porch light was glowing. The neighbor kids came by, one dressed as Link, and we giggled at how adorable they were. If only I had scrapped my plans and gone with my gut desire to pull out my SNES and copy of Link to the Past right then, the night could have been saved. Instead, we positioned ourselves near the door and waited.
Thing is, if you live on a cul de sac and you’re the only ones giving out candy…you’re going to end up eating a lot of candy. Thirty minutes passed with nary a knock. An hour. If this was a montage, I’d have looked at my watch at least twice by now. Hell, there’d have been a close up of my tapping foot. I knew that the minute I started up a game, the kids would start flowing, but I decided to throw caution to the wind and fire up the PS3.
Dark Souls sat staring me in the face. Potential for random interruptions? I better play the game that doesn’t have a pause feature. Let it never be said that I’m not a masochist. I resumed my adventure in the calming glow of the bonfire, hewn stone walls all around me. Divine Spear in my hands I ventured forward, pushing onwards in the darkness of death.
Quickly the tight corridors gave way to a wide open range of bridges and waterfalls, what would have seemed idyllic in any other situation. In the moment it took me to appreciate the beauty of my surroundings, Lordran took swift advantage of me. Off in the distance I heard the tell tale crackle of fire as something hurled a flaming orb towards me. It exploded against my shield, sending me reeling. Two skeletons ran out of the mist directly at me, doing their best Harryhausen impersonation. One went down as another fireball crashed into my side, sending me sprawling backwards. Pressed against a wall I struck out desperately, burning through my entire stamina bar and hitting nothing but air. When the third fireball came, it hit me full in the face.
YOU FUCKING PIECE OF SHIT. MOTHERFUCKING FIREBALLS. ASSHOLES.
It turns out that you can cover your lawn in rotting corpses, pop out at kids dressed up like a mummy, and even tempt strange kids to come into your house with candy on Halloween…but a profanity laced tirade against necromancers? Totally unacceptable. Children fled my open windows, shrieking for their parents. For the record kid dressed as a pirate, they don’t call it a sailor’s mouth for nothing. Get into character next time.
There isn’t much else to say about the rest of the Catacombs. It wasn’t outwardly horrible, just grueling. Skeletons with bows, skeletons with giant swords, and even skeletons attached to wheels that flew out at you from the shadows. One dark passageway bled into another, a seemingly endless series of stairways downward punctuated by pitched battles against dogged foes. By the end of it I was glad to just be done. I stumbled through the final white barrier, spent and with barely anything left in my flask. Terrible whispers began to echo from my speakers as a figure clad in black cloth rose up against me. Pinwheel…the boss of the Catacombs. I looked at my soul counter…only 250 (fucking skeletons didn’t drop souls). I could lose 250.
I ran at the boss, spear before me, and thrust it full force into the twisted silver mask that seemed to represent his face. A significant chunk of his life bar faded away. I sat up on my couch, suddenly significantly more interested in this encounter now that I stood a chance. Pinwheel took a page from the musty tome of Video Game Boss Battles almost immediately, splitting into four copies. Striking out at the closest, I found that any of the copies would easily burst into smoke. My mouth curled into a small smile. I had this bitch’s number.
His only defense was a slow moving and highly telegraphed bolt of white energy that move so slowly it was nearly impossible to NOT dodge. If he had a terrifying “ace” attack, I never got a chance to see it before he fell to my timeless “stab shit until it dies” strategy. As he faded away and I watched the loot roll in, I couldn’t bring myself to let go of the block button. Something else must be coming, there was no way it would be that easy. From Software was getting into my head, tricking me into feeling safe as to make the inevitable crushing all the better.
I sat in quiet contemplation as my wife gave out some candy to the brave few children willing to approach our haunted house of curses and vulgarity. “Trick or treat.” I got the treat From, but where was the Trick? Popping a Homeward Bone, I worked my way back to Firelink Shrine, determined to take my newfound power and conquer Sen and his bastard Fortress.